Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Wake Up Thought


I have a friend who always has an awesome upbeat attitude. This guy is always in a great mood and spreads his positive disposition to everyone he encounters. It is like having Tony Robbins as your best friend.

He is also one of the most successful entrepreneurs that I know. His business is flourishing, and he is living the American dream. One of the reasons he sites for his extreme success is that he always sees every situation as an opportunity. He never allows himself to be in a bad mood.

He recommended everyone should have a positive "wake up thought". Immediately upon becoming conscious each day, he suggested I think "Today is going to be a great day. I am a genius who is helping others achieve more than they could achieve without me!"

Heck,,,, a little hokey,..... but I figured, why not? Well cook me on the BBQ and slap some cheese on top.....he is right. I have done this for three weeks, and I feel great. No matter what else happens all day, or how others treat me....my mood is noticeably better. My days are more productive.

Many people wake up worried about all the crap that they have to face during the upcoming day. They fret over bills, bosses, deadlines, quotas and other negative thoughts. While you cannot avoid those problems, you can change how you start your day. If you tell yourself that "it is going to be a great day", your brain believes you. By adding the "I am helping others..." part, it makes you feel useful. As for the "genius" part...I just like it.

You don't need to tell anyone about your wake up thought if you are worried that it is weird. Just try it for a week. I do believe that attitude attributes to success. I certainly have improved my attitude (which was already good) by my "wake up thought" ritual. I am confident I will attract more success, too. It certainly wont hurt my efforts.

What did you think about this morning? My guess is that it has effected your attitude ever since.

Have A Great Day.

thom
thom@thomsinger.com

Some Assembly Required In Your In-Box

Have you subscribed to the "Some Assembly Required Blog"?

You can get new posts sent directly to your In-Box by subscribing to my blog. Look to the right and join now!

Thanks!!!

thom

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Leave A Comment and maybe Win A Prize

In an effort to encourage the readers of my blog to leave comments that lead to the extension of the dialogue on the posts, I am going to enter everyone who leaves a comment during the month of February into a drawing to win a $25 gift certificate from My Choice / Quick Gifts.

The rules are that you must leave a comment that is relative to the post and advances the discussion (not just "nice post"). You also must leave your name (sorry "anonymous" - you can't win) and a way for me to reach you. (you can email me separately with your email if you do not want it to be publicly displayed). A link to your blog on the comment will work as a means of contact.

Comments responding to other comments will also count. Multiple comments on the same post only will count if it is advancing the discussion of the community.

Only comments made on new posts in the month of February will be entered into the drawing.

I will draw a winner on Feb 28th.

I have the final decision on if a comment is relevant or not (yes, this blog is a dictatorship).

Any offensive comments will be removed and will not be entered into the drawing.

Tell your friends about the big February contest at "Some Assembly Required". While only one $25 gift certificate will be awarded, I will give away five copies of my book too.

Comment early and often.

Have A Great Day.

thom
www.thomsinger.com

Monday, January 29, 2007

Drive The Competition Crazy


More than a decade ago Guy Kawasaki wrote a book called "How To Drive Your Competition Crazy". It is a good book where he shares a lot of stories about his early days at Apple, when they were battling IBM, but the overall message of the book is better than the book itself.

Are You Driving The Competition Crazy with your actions?

Is your competition concerned about what you are doing?

Have you penetrated the soul of the competitor in the manner Moby Dick effected Captain Ahab?


Are you disrupting your industry and causing clients to look at your product or service in a new manner - creating new categories?


Are your employees actively networking in your business community so that anyone and everyone thinks "Wow, they are everywhere?".


Does your team know more about how your competition operates than know about themselves?"


If the answers to the above questions are "No" - Then why not? To be unnoticed by those in your industry probably means you are not being noticed by prospective clients. Being an average player in your industry will produce average results. However, if you want to stand out from the pack and have skyrocketing sales, you cannot just behave like everyone else. You must be unique, and you must operate in a way that "out-thinks" the competition everyday.

To "out-think" the competition means that you must consistently be reviewing what is happening in your industry. You must understand your strengths (and weaknesses), the competitor, and the consumer. Seeking advantages in products, services, marketing, PR, buzz, and branding has to be the assignment of every employee in your company. If your team does not know your goals of industry domination, then they cannot take the necessary steps to get you there.

You can only be stealth for so long. There comes a point when you have to go BIG, and when you do, you want to make sure that the competition can't sleep at night because you are doing amazing things that they cannot imagine doing. Be bold.

Have A Great Day.

thom
www.thomsinger.com

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Blog Linking Spreads The Love

Robert Scoble at the Scobleizer Blog (a tech/geek favorite blog) has stirred up some blogosphere grumblings with his rant "Big Gadget Sites Don't Link To Blogs", and his follow up "Pissing Off The Blogosphere", about how he gets mad at bloggers who do not link to other sights. The two posts have over 200 comments in just a few days, and countless bloggers are commenting on him (pro and con).

This has been a long time pet-peeve of mine. I hate bloggers who do not have blogrolls, do not link to the blogs where they get post ideas, and do not sight sources. I think that these folks are takers, not givers. Many of these bloggers just take ideas, thoughts, and stories and just claim them as their own.

Scoble says this is a growing trend in blog-land. Bummer.

In response, Robert Scoble is inviting all smaller bloggers (he has a huge readership) to post a link to their blogs in his comment section on a recent post. He also promises to visit all the blogs. Now that shows class.

Have A Great Day.

thom
thom@thomsinger.com

Austin Business Bloggers Club - February Meeting

If you are in Austin, Texas and you write a business oriented blog, please join us on Monday, February 5th at 5:30 PM for the next Austin Business Bloggers Club meeting at Guerro's restaurant on South Congress Avenue.

Be on time! This is a causal group with no formal agenda. We will meet in the bar, figure out how may folks are in attendance, and then divide into tables of 4-6 bloggers promptly at 5:45. Conversation will flow on its own, but the hope is that everyone can share best practices for writing a successful business blog.

Please be sure to bring cash to pay for your dinner and drinks. Don't be the one at the table who makes paying the check difficult (you all know what I mean!).

Have A Great Day.

thom
thom@thomsinger.com

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Networking Carnival Time Again


The February edition of the Networking Carnival is set for February 4th. You must send me your link by January 31st.

But please, make sure the post you send has to do with networking. I am amazed how many bloggers send me links to things that do not relate to the topic. I will not include any post that does not provide value to the readers on this topic.

If you are interested in hosting the March edition of the Networking Carnival on your blog, let me know.

Have A Great Day.

thom
www.thomsinger.com

Friday, January 26, 2007

No Exploratory Committee

I am not forming an exploratory committee and I am not seeking the Democratic or Republican Parties' nominations for the Presidency of the United States.

I think I am the only U.S citizen not running for the highest office in the land.

It seems one cannot turn on the television or log onto the internet without seeing yet another yahoo jumping into the race. Hillary Rodham-Clinton should be happy that at least one of her fellow citizens is not challenging her in the primaries (that are still over one year away).

I have decided that politics has just become a silly game, and the players have no idea how ridiculous they appear. The process has become all about marketing, image, brand, spin, hype, PR and positioning...rather than the real experience level or core beliefs of those running. In fact, there is no way to even know what they stand for because years ago they started morphing themselves into a media candidate.

It would be easier to launch a new cola flavored soft drink to compete with Coca-Cola than to run for president.

There are very few people who even care. Only about 40% will go vote in 2008, but the candidate don't care...they just want the right people to vote. I think it would be fun, just to shake things up, if the American people decided to all turn out and vote. The politicians would be shocked. In third world countries the turn out is high (Iraq saw almost all citizens vote), yet here we spend more money to get few to the polls.

So I am alerting the media that they can line up to interview me....the only person in the country not running for president. Heck, more people might vote for me than that poor Republican from Kansas whose declared his candidacy, and nobody can remember his name a week later.

Have A Great Day.

thom
http://www.thomsinger.com/

"Don't Vote For Me!"

But you could buy my book at Amazon.com!

Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce Presentation

A big "Thank You" to everyone who attended the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce seminar last night at Carmelo's Ristorante in Austin. Over 90 people came to see Scott Ingram and I present: "Networking In The New Year: Developing Your Strategic Plan".

Carmelo's private room was a great place to hold a meeting (I had never been there before, except for dinner in the main restaurant).

It was fun to talk to so many people following the event. I met some amazing new people whom I hope to see again and add to my professional network.

As we promised, the PowerPoint is up and available on Scott's Blog at NetworkInAustin.com.

Have A Great Day.

thom
thom@thomsinger.com

Friday Parade - Nostalgia

Ahhhhh, we call it the good old days. Here is a look at the year I was born, 1966:

In 1966 (the year you were born)
Lyndon B. Johnson is president of the US

As part of nationwide protest against the Vietnam War, demonstrations are staged all over the US

In Miranda vs. Arizona, the Supreme Court rules that criminal suspects must be apprised of their rights before interrogation

US planes begin bombing of the Hanoi area of North Vietnam

Controversial American comedian Lenny Bruce is found dead of a drug overdose in his home

John Lennon says, "We are more popular than Jesus" sparking controversy in the US

The first black Senator is elected to the United States Senate

Cindy Crawford, Janet Jackson, Mike Tyson, Halle Berry, Adam Sandler, and Kiefer Sutherland are born

Baltimore Orioles win the World Series

Green Bay Packers win the NFL championship

Montreal Canadiens win the Stanley Cup

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is the top grossing film

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann is published

Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys and Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel are released

Star Trek and The Newlywed Game premiere



Have A Great Day.

thom
www.thomsinger.com

Looking to hire an informative and entertaining business speaker for your next event? I would be happy to customize a program for your organization. Click here to learn more.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

"Networking In The New Year" Event - TODAY

This post originally ran last week, but I moved it to today so anyone in Austin who was still interested could make last minute plans to attend! Read the comments section, they were fun.

***********************************

Thursday, January 25th I will be co-presenting a seminar for the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce with Scott Ingram. The topic is "Networking In The New Year: Developing Your Strategic Plan".

This will be held at Carmelo's Restaurant from 4:30-6:30 PM.

The cost is $30 for chamber members, $45 for non-members.

Click Here for more info.

If you live in Austin, I hope you will attend.

thom

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

20 Mistakes of Eager Leaders

I saw the below list on John Moore's Brand Autopsy Blog last week, and it stuck with me. I recognize some of these faults in myself (God, I hate it when I see faults in myself). I also see some of them in folks I know. We can all learn from this!

Read the below and think hard about each point. Part of being a true leader in any industry is the ability to learn and grow. If you see yourself making any of the mistakes, take corrective actions to better your course.

These 20 mishaps are culled from Goldsmith’s newest book, WHAT GOT YOU HERE WON’T GET YOU THERE. It appeared in the most recent BusinessWeek.

20 Common Mistakes of Eager Leaders

1. Winning Too Much. The need to win at all costs and in all situations—when it matters, when it doesn’t, and when it’s totally beside the point.

2. Adding Too Much Value. The overwhelming desire to add our two cents to every discussion.

3. Passing Judgment. The need to rate others and impose our standards on them.

4. Making Destructive Comments. The needless sarcasms and cutting remarks that we think make us sound sharp and witty.

5. Starting with “No,” “But,” or “However.” The overuse of these qualifiers, which secretly say to everyone, “I’m right. You’re wrong.”

6. Telling the World How Smart We Are. The need to show people we’re smarter than they think we are.

7. Speaking When Angry. Using emotional volatility as a management tool.

8. Negativity. The need to share our negative thoughts, even when we weren’t asked.

9. Withholding Information. The refusal to share information in order to maintain an advantage over others.

10. Failing to Give Proper Recognition. The inability to praise and reward.

11. Claiming Credit We Don’t Deserve. The most annoying way to overestimate our contribution to any success.

12. Making Excuses. The need to reposition our annoying behavior as a permanent fixture so people excuse us for it.

13. Clinging to the Past. The need to deflect blame away from ourselves and onto events and people from our past; a subset of blaming everyone else.

14. Playing Favorites. Failing to see that we are treating someone unfairly.

15. Refusing to Express Regret. The inability to take responsibility for our actions, admit we’re wrong, or recognize how our actions affect others.

16. Not Listening. The most passive-aggressive form of disrespect for colleagues.

17. Failing to Express Gratitude. The most basic form of bad manners.

18. Punishing the Messenger. The misguided need to attack the innocent, who are usually only trying to protect us.

19. Passing the Buck. The need to blame everyone but ourselves.

20. An Excessive Need to Be “Me.” Exalting our faults as virtues simply because they exemplify who we are.

*** NOTE: The above list was compiled and written by Marshall Goldsmith. ***SOURCE: BusinessWeek article (sub. req'd) Jan. 8, 2007

So what do you think. Did this list expose you to any of your own faults? If yes (come on, be honest), the hard part is to make the changes necessary to improve yourself. Don't just click off this page and forget about it, take the actions needed to change your behavior. Future success is the reward. And who does not want future success????

Have A Great Day.

thom
thom@thomsinger.com

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Get Over Yourself


Are you whining and complaining too much? Do you find fault with those around you, while holding yourself up as so damn smart? Look around at how you react all day long:

Do you scream at other people while driving? Is it your opinion that people are stupid idiots? Are you co-workers lazy? Is your boss a fool? Do you criticize political leaders without having educated yourself on the issues they face? Are you annoyed easily? Does your significant other do dumb things regularly that piss you off? Do rich people bother you? Do fat people disgust you? While shopping to you find clerks to be less sophisticated than you and other shoppers to be in your way?

Get over yourself.

Immediately get over yourself.

Right now.

It seems that many people are obsessed with finding the faults in others....and view themselves as royalty. Guess what - we all have strengths and weaknesses. Everyone brings something great to society. If you are the type of person who looks at others and instantly sees there faults first, rather seeing an individual's amazing value - then you are a disgusting pig.

There I said it.

Have A Great Day.

thom
thom@thomsinger.com

Monday, January 22, 2007

Balancing Your Referral Network


Steve Harper has a post on "The Ripple Effect Blog " about the delicate nature of giving and receiving referrals from people in your business network. He has some great points, and everyone should pay more attention to whom sends you business and how you respond.

Steve says:

"One of the single biggest ways to wreck a referral network is to not take care of the people who take care of you. Period! End of story!"

He is right on the money. Very often business people take, take, take in the referral game. If you are not a natural at networking, you may get seduced into thinking that every interaction you have with your professional network is designed to bring YOU business. Thus, when referrals roll in, you feel you are deserving of the lead. This attitude will dry up your referrals faster than global warming can drain lake.

A referral is a precious gift and should be treated as such. While the best response to a referral is to send a referral, this is not always practical. Not everyone will have equal chances to refer qualified business to everyone else. Therefore it is natural that referral networks will rarely be in balance. A seasoned business professional who sends you business will understand this. (A novice or selfish individual will expect you to reciprocate with an equal amount of referrals).

If you do not have the right contacts to respond with legitimate referrals, there is still a way to let the person know that you appreciate them for making the introduction that lead you to more business:

SAY "THANK YOU"!!!

I don't just mean a casual, "hey, thanks Buddy"....but a real, heart felt showing of appreciation. This is when you must take the time to send a handwritten note. Not an email or a phone call (both of these are too easy, and thus common place). A special gift of some kind would be even better. A ten dollar Starbuck's gift card is worth more than ten dollars when accompanied by your gratitude to the person who sent you the referral.

I once referred a client to an attorney. It was a good match and he got the case. The next day he sent me a $10o bottle of wine from one of his favorite vineyards. WOW. I do not know much about wine (other than I like to drink it), but I knew it was a special bottle and not something he sent to everyone. I have never forgotten this gesture, and would refer to him again any person who had the need for his type of legal advice.

Never forget to acknowledge the referral or it just might be your last one!

Have A Great Day.

thom
thom@thomsinger.com
Take the free NETORKING QUOTIENT QUIZ. The thrity question quiz takes only eight minutes and will make you think about how you react in various networking situations. You will instantly get your answers and will show you how you compare to others.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Federal Networking Tax


Shhhhhh, do not tell the bureaucrats in Washington DC: Your business network of professional contacts is a valuable asset. Successful people who earn the big bucks all have contacts with people who can and do refer them business opportunities. If you tell the Congress they will look for ways and means to slap a tax on networking.

Think of it: The LinkedIn Tax. They find a way to bill you for knowing people who deliver opportunities that lead to more success. Meeting someone at a cocktail party could cost you on April 15th. Sending a handwritten follow up note? Watch out, Uncle Sam will want his piece of the possible long term value in building business friendships. And the over decades, a strong network and reputation could be worth millions of dollars.

For now you are safe, Nancy Pelosi has not added this new tax to the "First One Hundred Hours" agenda in the House of Representatives. So get out there and take advantage of building your network now, before they catch on.

Also, depending on the state where you reside, your legislature could discover the windfall from taxing this asset. Fortunately, Texas has no state income tax, so your relationships here are free.

Have A Great Day.

thom
www.thomsinger.com

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Day 3 - ICE STORM 2007


Is Austin, Texas is the only city that totally closes down when the weather hits thirty degrees?

I am sure that people in Canada are capable of driving to work when it is cold. Yet this city shuts down the roads with the slightest hint of ice. My theory is the town only owns one de-icing truck.

They announced that they are running out of sand and de-icing chemicals....it has only been cold for two days.

I would like to go to work, but there would be nobody to call on because everyone else is at home.

My kids like having me around (schools are closed again), but I think my wife is tired of me around after a Monday and Tuesday of being home all day.

Stay warm.

thom

Stuck at home because of the ice? Need a good book? Have your ever read my book? Click here to get your very own copy! and Thank You!!!

Forward Thinking

Think ahead. Know what you want to accomplish and work backward to figure out what is necessary to get to your goal.

Break it down into small chunks and take each step one at a time.

The cliche "A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step" is true. But you have to know where you are going.

When you come to a fork in the road, if you know your destination, the choice is easy.

Always look ahead. Do not get lost in the here and now. Think forward.

Now move forward.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Have you taken The Networking Quotient Quiz? It is FREE. Takes only six to eight minutes. See how you are doing with your networking skills, but it is not just about the final score - Think about the questions and the answers! www.networkingquotient.com.




Treat People Better Everyday


How you treat other people speaks volumes. I watched my kids interact today and I realize that many people never out grow being childish. My five-year-old daughter spent an hour complaining about everything her older sister was doing. The older kid was not doing anything wrong, but the younger one just wanted attention. While not the best of behavior traits, she is only five.

But then it hit me....WAMMO....people who are thirty-five, forty-five, (and older) act the exact same way.

People seem to think that other humans are put here on this planet to please them. They regulate their moods based on the actions of others. When their friends, co-workers, significant others, siblings, etc... do not cater to their every whim, they behave like little children.

According to author John Maxwell there are only three ways to treat other people:

Treat them worse than they treat you.

Treat them the same as they treat you.

Treat them better than they treat you.

He says your best choice is to always treat people better than they treat you, and he calls this "The High Road". He is right. You get to choose how behave toward the people you encounter. By making it a habit of always treating people a little better than they treat you, you will not always improve your relationships (some folks are jerks, others keep score of everything), but you will have the peace of mind that you never are the root of the problem.

Plus, think about a life where everyone you knew wanted to treat you better than you treated them. AND you also lived by this philosophy....the world would be a GREAT place!!! You would always be trying to "one-up" each other with nice and cool stuff. WOW.

I have a friend who had not always looked out for my best interests. It was clear that he kept score of every interaction with all of those around him. He was cautious of making sure that he was never overly giving, as he had a fear of someone trying to take advantage of him if he was "too nice". I just ignored his ways and continued to try to go out of my way to help him out. I realized his insecurities. Some might have thought he was taking advantage of me with the way he treated me at times. However, over time he changed and is now one of the most helpful and true friends in my network. I am not sure what caused the shift in his personality, but I am glad that I always treated him so well, as he has since proven to be of assistance to me many times.

Look around at the people with whom you regularly interact. Examine how you treat each other. You cannot change them, but you can change yourself. Treat them better from this point forward, and you will find more happiness and peace in your world.

Have A Great Day.

thom
thom@thomsinger.com

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

More About Your 2007 Goals


It is Tuesday, January 16th.

Two weeks of 2007 are now gone. Poof! That was fast. Too fast. And it is just foreshadowing of what is to come. The whole year is going to fly past.

Have you spent any time in the new year really thinking about what you want to accomplish this year? 2007 has more promise to have amazing things happen in your life than 2006. You know why? Because 2006 is over. But you have to take action now, or for the calendar waits for nobody.

Most people I know do not set out and write down their goals. I don't know why, but they do not do it. I wish they would. Having a plan is a proven way to achievement.

Think for a minute about a start-up company that is looking for venture capital funding. Will the VC's lend millions of dollars to an entrepreneur who has an idea and no business plan? Although in 1999 it seemed that way, the answer is "No". The money folks want to see what the goals are for the business and what steps will be taken to reach success. A good investor wants to look toward the future accomplishments.

This does not mean that a business plan is set in stone. Most companies vary greatly from their plans, as planning and doing are two different things. But to not have any plan is a one-way ticket to nowhere.

Yet in life most folks just sit back and wait for success. They go to work and hope things will go well. Sometimes good things happen...sometimes bad things happen. Most of the time they are just lost in limbo.

If you are reading this blog, and have got to this point in this post without clicking away, then you obviously want to do more with 2007. There might be a nagging feeling in you that knows you can accomplish something bigger. Well then, take action.

Start small. Take out a piece of paper and write down five to ten things you want to do in 2007. They do not have to major life changing goals, but should be things that take effort. They need not all be business related, there can be (and should be) some "just for fun" items that will inspire you.

You may not achieve all of them during the year, but if you refer back to the list regularly you will be more motivated than otherwise.

Here is a sample of items on my 2007 goal list.

1. Read 25 books in 2007

2. Test drive a new BMW

3. Give 22 speeches in 2007

4. Take the family camping

5. Appear on a television program to promote my new book

6. Run two 5K races in 2007

7. Speak to a conference with more that 1000people in the audience

8. Double my blog readership

I have 30 items on my list for the year. These include goals for my job, my book, my speaking, my family, and just some random fun stuff. I know from experience that I will complete about 25 of these. If I did not write them down I would probably get to few of them. Out of sight is out of mind.

Writing your goals on paper and reading them daily is an amazing form of motivation.

If you have never done this in the past, try it in 2007. Even if you are skeptical, you can be sure it wont hurt you! It just might help you be more productive. Come on...what could be stopping you? Just do it.

Have A Great Day.

thom
thom@thomsinger.com

HEY, you want to help me with the above mentioned goal "number eight"? If you are a regular reader of this blog...then tell your friends to read it too. It will give you some interesting topics to discuss and it will help me expand the readership!

And goal "number three"...if your company or business organization needs a keynote speaker for a meeting, give me a call.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Special Client Events Build Community


Saturday evening was the annual awards banquet for my 9-year-old daughter's karate school. The Academy of Universal Martial Arts in South Austin has been a great experience for our family over the past year. Many regular readers of this blog may recall that we had some serious issues/problems at another school a year ago, but our current school has created an amazing sense of community. It is a family.

The school is just over a year old, so this was the first banquet, and it was very well done. I am a big believer that special client events are an amazing way to build a community among your customers. This event proved that.

I was very impressed with how the owners of the school had structured the evening. Many larger companies could learn from this little dojo about how to honor customers, employees and volunteers.

*The night began with a slide show showcasing all the students. No matter what your business, you customers love to see themselves included in slide shows, newsletters, websites, etc....

*There were dozens of door prizes that were donated by local businesses and families from the school, so most everyone was able to win a prize. The kids love to win prizes (heck, the adults like to win prizes!). These ranged from small gifts to some major items. By having so many, it gave almost everyone a chance to win something, and built the excitement for the evening.

*The owner of the school honored the instructors and presented them with some very impressive martial arts swords in appreciation of their dedication to the school. We are fortunate at the academy to have amazing teachers who have made my daughter's martial arts experience very beneficial. While I am not a big fan of weapons, they are a part of the martial arts, and these were beautiful swords. You could see in their eyes that the instructors were thrilled with the gifts.

*Awards were presented for the students in the areas of "beginner", "intermediate", "advanced" and "black-belt" levels. A "most improved" and "student of the year" was given in each category for a youth and an adult student. My daughter, Jackie, was "Most Improved" in the intermediate category (she is now "advanced", but the award is based on the previous year). She has worked hard in her training, and was very honored to receive the plaque, which is already proudly hanging on the wall of her bedroom.

*They also presented an award to the "Parents of the Year" to a deserving couple who are deeply dedicated to not only their children, but to all the kids in the program. I thought this was a great additional touch. Getting your kid to any extracurricular activity takes a commitment, and by honoring this couple, the school honored all the parents.

*Organizing such an event takes a team of volunteers, and the owner of the school recognized the women who orchestrated the decorations, pot luck, agenda, and door prizes. This small group of dedicated parents and students did an awesome job of coordinating the party (My lovely wife, Sara, amongst them!). He presented them each with a gift certificate for Seattle's Best Coffee. A small gesture made them all so very happy, you can bet they will all volunteer again.

I have been thinking about the fact that so few businesses go out of their way to create such a feeling of community that this small karate school has done. The owners always make parents and students know that they appreciate our business. The instructors regularly keep us informed as to our daughter's progress. Throughout the year their are special events, but this banquet was really spectacular. I looked around at the fifty families in attendance and everyone was having a great time. Well done client appreciation events keep your customers coming back time and time again.

Think about your business. What have you done lately to appreciate your customers and employees? Have you taken steps to make those with whom you do business feel they are part of a community....or is your main interaction with clients the mailing of an invoice? If clients feel you only appreciate their money, then you are vulnerable to them going down the street to the competition.

I can promise you The Academy of Universal Martial Arts (at the corner of Slaugther and Manchaca in Austin, Texas) understands the importance of creating community, and I am proud to have my family be a part of this community!

Have A Great Day.

thom
www.thomsinger.com
thom@thomsinger.com

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Networking Blog Carnival - 5th Edition


Send in the clowns! It is Carnival Time.

Please submit your networking focused blog post for the next edition of the Networking Carnival to thom@thomsinger.com.

One rule....the topic of your blog post MUST be about networking (note, it is called the Networking Carnival). Not kinda-sorta. It MUST make sense or I will just discard it. Yesterday I got a post from someone using Blogcarnival.com and it was so far off topic that it was silly. Obviously they were just sending links to random carnivals hoping for free links.

The carnival will be posted on February 4th, so I need you submissions by January 31st.

If you have not seen the January Networking Carnival, you should check out the great entries. It was hosted by LegalAndrew.com. If you would like to host the next edition on your blog, let me know.

thanks.

thom
www.thomsinger.com

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Networking Mechanic


A woman was recently recommending me for an opportunity to speak to her company. She told her boss that I am "the 'Networking Mechanic'. He is the guy you hire when your sales team needs a tune up!"

Wow, I sure like that. In fact, I am going to use this in the future!

If your sales team needs a tune up when it comes to their efforts to make, grow and keep their business relationships, let me know.

thom

Friday, January 12, 2007

Networking Is Dead....Long Live Networking

Listen. Do you hear them? Do you hear all the people who are saying: "I hate networking", "Networking is a waste of time", "Those who network are cro-magnum men and they offend me to the point that I just want to scream, because I am a more enlightened person than those awful networkers", "This is a new era and networking has no place here",...."Networking is dead, it does not work".

Do you hear them? Oh yes, my friends, they are out there.

Well guess what...they are full of shit and I am tired of their pansy ass whining.

You know what, if networking is dead...then LONG LIVE NETWORKING, cuz it isn't dead at all.

It can't be dead, because as long as human beings walk on this beautiful earth, we will need one another to succeed. Always have, always will. Nobody lives in a vacuum, we are an interdependent species. To think that anyone achieves their goals without the support of others is just wrong.

People like to do business with people they know. They feel comfortable engaging in commerce with those whom they trust. Being a known entity will mean more opportunities will appear in your life. Making an effort to make real connections with other people will bring you not only more business, but will bring you joy. But it cannot happen without effort. You must work to build your network.

All those who run around proclaiming the demise of networking are just misguided. They want to re-label networking into something else. But a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet. It is still "networking". Making connections and building mutually beneficial relationships IS the name of the game.

Sure, when you go out into the world you will encounter people whose networking style is horrible. There are self centered and obnoxious people on this planet. But do not let them spoil your experiences when it comes to your efforts to make, grow and keep your business relationships.

My belief about networking is that it is not about simply going out and seeing a person and gaining their business card. It is not discovering them in Linked In and inviting them to join your "network". No-sir-E-Bob. Networking is about uncovering the individual beliefs, passions, goals, dreams, and plans of other people. It is about developing a friendship and mutual admiration. And is is most definitely in helping others to achieve their aspirations. Those who give to others get in return. It happens. Those who are takers get a nothin' sandwich.

I was at a networking function the other day and one of the attendees was negative about everything that came up in conversation. I bet he could find a reason to complain about a sunny day in San Diego. He did not like the new iPhone, he did not like Rosie O'Donnell or Donald Trump (well, maybe he has a point there), he did not like David Beckham (or Posh Spice), and he did not like networking. No matter what the topic, he found reason to trash all sides of the issue. In the end, I did not like him. There was nothing pleasant in the conversation. Nothing. He proclaimed that nobody he met networking ever helped him. Well of course not, he is a jerk. He obviously had never helped anyone else either. But it is awful people like this guy who run around claiming that networking is a failure.

I see the world of networking differently. It is not about injecting negative comments into the conversation, it is about finding the positives and getting others excited to tell you about what is on their mind. Engage people with questions about their business, their personal life, their dreams and goals. You will love to listen to others when they begin to sing with passion. Then find ways to help them. If you do this, then abundance will return to you in ways you have never imagined. That is networking! And that can never die.

Have A Great Day.

thom
thom@thomsinger.com

Friday Parade - I am Austin

My friend Chris Hyde sent me a link to an online quiz that aks "If you were a city, what city would you be". It asks some simple questions and then compares your answers to the personalities of a major U.S. city.

Alas, I am right at home! I am Austin, Texas.

This was comforting. My personality matches that of my home. I am not sure I would be this happy if it told me I was Des Moines. Nothing against Iowa.... but it just does not seem as cool (I am biased, as I chose to live in Austin sixteen years ago, and have never left).

You Are Austin
A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll.You're totally weird and very proud of it.Artistic and freaky, you still seem to fit in... in your own strange way.
Famous Austin residents: Lance Armstrong, Sandra Bullock, Andy Roddick
What American City Are You?


Click Here to find out what city you would be.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Dead Birds Stop Business


Earlier this week dozens of dead birds appeared on the streets of downtown Austin overnight. The police and fire department shut down the main corridor of Congress Avenue, causing hundreds of businesses to close for the morning.

Bad for the birds, but the morning off for thousands of people. I drove home and took my kids to breakfast, since it was their last day off school for the holiday break.

Downtown remained closed until noon while the authorities investigated what what caused 63 birds to drop dead.

It was interesting to watch on the news, as it did not seem to be a big deal (firemen where not wearing respirators or other has-mat gear), but more of a precaution. I am all for precautions, so I am not complaining.

Four days later they still do not know the cause of the incident. Everyone has a theory, and it has made interesting conversation. It even made CNN. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts about the birds.

I got the above photo by email (I don't know the source, or I would site it)....but it made me laugh.

Have A Great Day.

thom
www.thomsinger.com



Working on your 2007 Business Plan? Don't forget the importance of networking in your ultimate success. Have you read my book yet? Now is a great time to read "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Grow and Keep Your Business Relationships". It just might be the inspiration you create a spark.

Click Here to visit Amazon.com.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and John Edwards To Teach A Live Business Skills Seminar Through November 2008


There are two years and eleven days until the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States. Regardless of your politics that is a long time. And yet, the news is reporting the 2008 election in the USA as if it was already heating up.

This hot reporting is because the pre-election it is heating up. Those candidates with presidential aspirations have already begun to plan for their campaigns. They began a long time ago. The teams are in place and the strategies are being thought through.

None of what we will witness in the meat of the campaign next year will be by accident. These people have set the goal (a big one), and they are doing everything they can to market themselves. It is not about who has the most experience or a superior vision of the future, it is about who can garner the right mix of media attention and "buzz".

They are also raising money. To win the presidency will cost a whole lotta cash. In fact, to lose the election will take a whole lotta cash! It costs money to play the game regardless of the outcome. Many qualified candidates will never get the chance to run for office because they do not have enough money to create the "machine".

Finally, candidates are trying to be the first to embrace new technologies and platforms. John Edwards announced his candidacy on You-Tube. Others will soon be doing the same thing. Think back to Bill Clinton's appearance on the Arsenio Hall show...he was the first politician to appear on an entertainment talk show.....now they all do it. Being first is important to getting the attention!

Through all the actions over the next 22 months, these these Democrats and Republican candidates will be holding a live business skills seminar, so pay attention. If you look closely you will witness great lessons for your our own (albeit seemingly smaller) goals for success:

1. Plan Ahead. Do not just sit back and hope that the tide of victory will roll in. You need to know what you want, assemble your team, and plan your strategy.

2. Begin Marketing Early. To create "buzz" takes time and tenacity. Do not just assume that once you throw you hat in the ring that anyone will care. You need to realize that many great products and services have flopped because the target market failed to buy.

3. Success Requires Funding. Americans love to champion those who "bootstrap" their way to victory. While this can happen, it is rare. Look around at your local mall. How many local "mom and pop" stores are there? Not many. The big companies have taken over the shopping experience because they have the money to pay the high rents and buy the advertising. This is true in most areas. Yes, the internet and other new media have changed some things, but for the most part it is still hard to gain traction in marketing your product without up-front money. I am not saying you need tons of money...but do not pretend you can do all your marketing with not money up front.

4. Gain First Mover Advantage. If you want to get media attention, you have to do something original. Be bold, try new things. Do not just do what your competition is doing. However, taking risks is risky (yes, that is a brilliant sentence, thank you!). Do not do silly things to gain attention (think Howard Dean's famous scream), as that just gets you labeled as nutty.

You can learn many important business lessons about strategy, product marketing, public relations, sales, word-of-mouth promotion, event planning, crisis control, networking and relationships, fundraising, creating a team, public speaking, and much much more from watching these skilled politicians sell themselves out to the American people!

Have A Great Day.

thom
www.thomsinger.com

Monday, January 08, 2007

Live Boldly With Exclamation Points!!!!!!


Some people just go through the motions of life. They wake up, shower, get dressed, go to work, drive home, eat dinner, watch television and fall asleep. The next day they do it all again. On the weekends it is not much better. They just exist. For these people life is like standard ten or twelve point Times New Roman or Arial fonts. Nothing special. Regular. Routine.

If you feel your life is unspectacular, find ways to spice it up. Do not be satisfied with a dull existence. Do not push your emotions aside to get through another day. Even a negative emotion is better than living numb.


I spent a lot of time crushing my feelings and ignoring them until one day I forgot how to "feel". I was not unhappy, but I certainly was not happy. I just was. And it is not fun to just "be" with no particular purpose or passion.

To rediscover yourself takes effort. It requires personal time to reflect on what matters most to you. You will need to pay attention to your feelings, or lack of feelings about everything that happens around you. Find joy in each feeling, positive or negative, as having emotional reactions is what makes us human. Awakening a desire to achieve is not easy, but it is a much more fulfilling way to live your life.

Think of your life as a typed document. Use different sized fonts. Add color. Do not be afraid of bold type or italics. Liberally use exclamation points to highlight what excites you!!! Do not be scared of what other people think about you. Being unique is your goal. Being comfortable with your uniqueness is what will make you soar.


Have A Great Day.

thom
thom@thomsinger.com

Have you taken The Networking Quotient Quiz? It only takes about eight minutes and it will make you think about how you network. Instantly see how your score compares to your peers.


Friday, January 05, 2007

Friday Parade - Austin Business Bloggers Club

Jason Alba of JibberJobber.com was visiting Texas and invited all his Austin business blogging friends to meet him for dinner. A small group of us met at Guerro's Mexican Restaurant.

A GREAT TIME HAD BY ALL!!!

Wonderful conversation ensued and a variety of ideas and advice flowed freely. The Austin Business Bloggers Club (BBC) was born.

Each month we will meet to share ideas and network. Anyone who writes a business related blog is welcome to join us on the first Monday of the month. Bring cash to pay for your dinner and drinks - AND - bring your best ideas about the blogosphere.

This will be a casual group: No by-laws, no dues, no headaches. Each month we will meet at a restaurant (maybe Guerro's each time???) and determine how many folks are present. Then break up into tables of 4 to 6 for round table dinner conversations.

If you live in Central Texas and are interested in stopping by, drop one of us a line ...we will keep you informed of plans for the February gathering.

(In photo: Jason Alba, Thom Singer, Scott Ingram, Liz Handlin and Scott Allen).

Have A Great Day.

thom
thom@thomsinger.com

Thursday, January 04, 2007

2007 Networking Tip



The new year brings people exploring for tips to improve their business performance. Many look around and see that those with extensive networks of business contacts often received new and amazing opportunities in 2006. Thus, they decide that "it is time to network".

I often get asked by these "new" networkers what they can do to expedite the time involved with creating a strong network.

My answer?...You can't. There is no magic fast-track to cultivating real relationships with people in your business community.

That being said, the best way to start building a network is to accept that it takes time, money and effort to get to know people. Think about dating. One does not expect to really know someone after a first date. It takes a year or more before most people really know someone well enough to get married. The same is true in networking, you need many shared experiences before someone is truly a business friend.

Since there is no "speed-pass", you have to be committed to regularly participating in networking events, attending industry conferences, planning individual follow up meetings, and discovering ways to be a resource to those you meet. If you think that just meeting a few key people once or twice is networking, then you are destined become one of these bitter people who think "networking does not work".

I meet these folks all the time. They run around professing that networking is a waste of time. They are sure of it. They belittle those who champion the importance of business relationships and are all too ready pontificate their feelings. Upon further discussion it is always apparent that these people have never really dedicated the necessary time to "know" the people that they have met while networking. They have sat around waiting for the phone to ring, and then arrogantly dismissed the whole networking concept when others have not met their expectations.

Instead of becoming one of these grumpy people, you need to realize in advance that networking is not about meeting people and having them instantly refer you tons of business. That is what fools believe. Networking is not about just going to events and exchanging business cards (that is the biggest misconception, FYI). And networking is not about keeping score about who you have helped and what they have done for you.

Networking is about a lifestyle of discovering people in the business world with whom you can develop mutual respect. Networking is about looking for ways to help others and introducing those you know who could benefit each other. Networking is about friendship. Find joy in the successes of your friends!! And networking is about having a positive view of the future. The is no "I" in Networking (Okay, yes there is...but you get the point!).

Good luck in 2007!

Have A Great Day.

thom
thom@thomsinger.com

Networking Carnival - 4th Edition


The fourth edition of the Networking Carnival is now up at LegalAndrew.com. Andrew Flusche did a great job of compiling some great posts on the topic of "tips for new networkers".

I you would like to host the 5th edition of the Networking Carnival on your blog in February, please let me know.

thom

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Invincible

The Disney movie, Invincible, is the story of Philadelphia Eagles football player, Vince Papale. Papale's true story of being a 30-year-old bartender who gets a once-in-a-lifetime shot at living every sports fan's wildest fantasy: Playing in the big leagues. His beloved hometown team held open tryouts in 1976, and from the hundreds who went for the dream, Papale made the team. For three years he played in the NFL and was became the heart and soul of the Eagles organizations.

In the beginning the veteran players viewed him as a publicity stunt, but in the end he won the hearts of the fans and players alike. He had true determination and put his whole self into playing football. His only experience had been one year of high school football, and his time on the dirt lot playing street ball with his buddies. Yet his desire and iron will outplayed his lack of experience.

This is not the greatest movie of the year, but compared to most things you can rent...it was pretty good. The real inspiration is not the movie, but what Vince Papale represents. While not all of us would want to play in the NFL....we each do have aspirations of achievement. Everyone has something more they want in their lives.

Yes, you need talent. But talent alone is not enough to ensure success. You need that spark inside your soul that makes you feel INVINCIBLE.

Why can't we go for those dreams? Who is stopping us? The answer is nothing. If you want something, why not go for it. If Papale had never attended the open try-outs that day in Philadelphia....he never could have lived the life he has led. By trying, he got it all. But even if he had not made the team....trying would have been better than to have sat behind the bar and wished.

I believe in reaching for the stars. If you only land on the moon....well that is damn good. To just sit and life happen to you is a sure map to disappointment. Find something that you desire and go for it. Even if you do not get it, you will have tried.

Have A Great Day.

thom
thom@thomsinger.com

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Nobody Cares


Hugh at The Gapingvoid Blog had the above cartoon on his website last week (along with the "Nobody Cares" Manifesto).

It got me thinking... Damn, this is true. Nobody Cares. A world of six billion people, and everyone wrapped up in their own shit.

But does nobody care because they are self-centered....or does nobody care because there is now amazing amounts of information and so many choices swirling around us that people are overwhelmed. I think the latter.

Over 20,000 beverage choices are available when you walk into Starbucks (all the sizes, flavors, syrups, hot and cold, caffeine or caffeine free, etc.... do the math!). How can anyone possibly comprehend that each morning (especially before a cup of coffee)? So they don't.

People order what they know. I get the grande non-fat vanilla latte. It is in my comfort zone. Sometimes I might go wild and get a mocha, but that is about it. The more choices we face, the less we pay attention to the other options. Don't even get me started on the 19 flavors of Oreo Cookies.

The same is true with people. Nobody cares about your dreams, goals, products or services. With everyone they know and meet, they just don't choose to care about you.

In fact, it is often the opposite: people find ways to look down on others, find flaws, and otherwise dismiss people. They try to keep others from succeeding or ignore their talents. Instead of wanting to see others reach for more, they are threatened by potential.

This is why it is so important for you to show interest in other people you meet while networking. The small effort of caring about what is important to others makes you stand out in the crowd. You will have more success if you care about others and you will have more fun.

A great thing to ask everyone you talk to in the next few weeks is "What is your biggest goal in 2007?" .... then care about their answer! You will be amazed with what you will learn about friends and strangers. Once people know you care, they will tell you more and more about their dreams, goals, and desires.

On occasion, you will even be able to help them reach these goals....or they can help you reach yours! That is when joy enters the picture. Helping others (or having them help you) reach potential is powerful.

SOMEBODY CARES: Population One...And Growing!

Have A Great Day.

thom
thom@thomsinger.com

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!


Well it happened: 2006 came to a close.

It happens every time....December gets here so fast, and all events of the holidays take over and before I know it, the year is over. Win or lose, all the hopes and dreams of 2006 are done.

Today is more than just a day on the calendar, it is a fresh start. Whatever goals you did not complete in 2006 are no longer of concern. They are yesterday's news. We all have failures and shortcomings. So what?

It is now all about 2007 (don't dwell on the past). But wishing for success will only leave you frustrated. You have to take action.

I believe that no achievement happens in a vacuum. You need other people to help you succeed. Make 2007 the year of improved networking skills. Read my book (or any book on the subject), but do not just stop at the reading: Implement the advice on how to make, grow and keep your business relationships.

If you were to focus on making two strong business contacts per month (that is not hard to do if you focus on networking), then you will have twenty-four allies looking out to help advance your career one year from today. Think about that...what if you had done that in 2006? Could one of those two dozen folks presented you with a life changing opportunity? Even if your answer is "MAYBE!" (I think it should be "YES")...then you could have missed out on something amazing.

Start today and NEVER STOP NETWORKING!

thom
thom@thomsinger.com